Eczema is a chronic skin condition that is characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed skin (1). It can be exacerbated by various factors, including environmental triggers lurking within our homes. While we often focus on skincare routines or allergens in our surroundings, even harmless looking household products can also silently contribute to eczema flare-ups. In this article, we will uncover some common household items that could potentially trigger your eczema and how to replace them with skin-friendly alternatives. Read on!
1. Scented Laundry Detergents
The aromatic allure of scented laundry detergents might seem irresistible, but the chemicals used to make these scents may irritate sensitive skin and trigger eczema flare-ups (2). Fragrances present in these detergents can leave residue on clothing, bedding, and towels, leading to skin irritation. You can opt for fragrance-free hypoallergenic detergents and double-rinse your clothes to mitigate this trigger.
2. Harsh Cleaning Products
Common household cleaning products, such as dishwashing detergents, and surface sprays, often contain harsh chemicals like ammonia and bleach. These substances can strip the skin of its natural oils and disrupt its protective barrier, aggravating eczema.
Consider switching to a gentler, natural-based cleaner or wearing gloves while cleaning to minimize direct skin contact with these products.
3. Fabric Softeners And Dryer Sheets
While fabric softeners and dryer sheets promise soft and fresh-smelling laundry, their chemicals can linger on clothes, bedding, and towels, and potentially cause skin irritation. Consider skipping these products or choosing fragrance-free, hypoallergenic alternatives. Alternatively, using wool dryer balls can soften fabrics without the need for chemical-laden products.
4. Scented Candles
The artificial fragrances and chemicals released into the air when a candle burns can irritate sensitive skin upon contact. Opt for unscented candles or natural alternatives like essential oil diffusers to create a pleasant environment without the risk of triggering skin reactions.
5. Air Fresheners
Similar to scented candles, artificial air fresheners often contain fragrances and chemicals that can irritate eczema-prone skin. These products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which might irritate the skin upon exposure (3). Ventilating your home, using natural alternatives like baking soda or vinegar for odor control, and opting for fragrance-free air fresheners can help alleviate this trigger.
6. Sulfate-Based Soaps And Shampoos
Sulfates, commonly found in soaps, shampoos, and body washes, create the lathering effect we associate with cleansing. However, these compounds can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation, especially for those with eczema. Opt for sulfate-free, gentle cleansers that maintain the skin’s moisture barrier, minimizing the risk of triggering eczema flare-ups.
7. Harsh Skincare Products
Certain skincare products containing harsh chemicals, fragrances, or preservatives might exacerbate eczema symptoms. Ingredients like alcohol, parabens, and artificial fragrances can irritate sensitive skin, leading to inflammation and discomfort (4). Opt for hypoallergenic, fragrance-free skincare products specifically formulated for sensitive skin or those labeled as suitable for eczema-prone skin.
Home Remedies For Eczema
There are several home remedies and natural treatments that can help soothe the symptoms of eczema. It’s important to note that while these remedies might provide relief for some, they may not work for everyone. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new treatment, especially if you have severe or persistent eczema.
1. Coconut Oil
Applying virgin coconut oil to affected areas can help moisturize and reduce inflammation. Coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe eczema-prone skin. Apply a thin layer after a bath or whenever the skin feels dry.
2. Aloe Vera
The gel from aloe vera plants has cooling and anti-inflammatory properties that can calm irritated skin. Apply pure aloe vera gel to the affected area to alleviate itching and redness.
3. Cold Compresses
Using cold compresses or wet wraps can provide relief from itching and inflammation. Apply a clean, damp cloth to the affected area for a few minutes several times a day to soothe the skin.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Adding a small amount of apple cider vinegar to a bath may help balance the skin’s pH levels and reduce irritation. Mix a cup of ACV in a bathtub filled with lukewarm water and soak for 10-15 minutes.
Applying raw honey directly to eczema patches can help soothe and moisturize the skin. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties may also aid in healing.
6. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil, taken orally or applied topically, contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which may help reduce inflammation associated with eczema. Consult a healthcare provider before using supplements (5).
7. Tea Tree Oil
Diluted tea tree oil can help alleviate eczema symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Mix a few drops with a carrier oil (like coconut or olive oil) and apply it to affected areas.
Consuming probiotic-rich foods or taking probiotic supplements may help support gut health, which can have a positive impact on inflammatory skin conditions like eczema.
Consulting a dermatologist can provide valuable insights into managing eczema triggers and tailoring a skincare routine that suits your specific needs. Also, implementing lifestyle changes, such as practicing stress-relief techniques and maintaining a balanced diet rich in skin-nourishing nutrients, can also contribute to managing eczema symptoms.